Author's Notes

Upon encountering their old elven friend Kizmel from Sword Art Online, Kirito and Asuna are sucked into another quest where dark elves and demons abound. After discovering that Silica and Premiere were transferred to the same world, the four decide to head to the quest checkpoint-the Forest of the Holy Tree. Sword Art Online Βραχιόλι SAO Swords Βραχιόλι με 3 σπαθιά (Dark Repulser, Elucidator, Lambent Light) από την anime σειρά Sword Art Online. Βραχιόλι από κράμα μετάλλων, με τα σπαθιά να έχουν ύψος 4 εκ.

I'll only do this once since it's the first story of this little collection I'm doing. This story is basically a list of One-Shot's that I'll be writing as a collection of mini-stories. These stories will revolve around Kirito and one of the main heroines of the series. They aren't going to be done in any particular order, this was just the first one to pop into my mind. They may be cannon or not, and you may see other characters pop in and out of the stories despite revolving around Kirito and one of the main female leads. This particular story follows the Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment non-canon storyline.

It's different from what I normally write, but I've gotten back into SAO since Season 3 is coming along with Ordinal Scale, and playing Hollow Fragment and soon Lost song! You'll also see a mini prologue at the start of every story.

Thanks and enjoy!

X

Lisbeth's Dark Repulser

What was supposed to be a good time with friends ended up being a memorable yet awkward date night between Lisbeth and Kirito. During this time Rika gets upset knowing the truth behind her Dark Repulser, and what happened on the 75th floor. However Kirito reminds Lisbeth that the strength of the blade was not all it was about, but to battle the darkened feelings of despair as well. This in turn gives Lisbeth the courage to act upon the promise she made to herself, and see if her heart's remains can become whole again.

X

She didn't know why she was so anxious, waiting patiently to meet with her friend outside a relatively new yet popular hangout spot in the heart of Japan across from the Imperial Palace grounds. As she breathed easily, playing with her brown shoulder length hair, looking up to the sunny yet gloomy sky with her wondering brown eyes.

'It's not like we haven't ever gone out to places together before.' She pondered why this nervousness wasn't only not going away, but was building up as well, letting out silently to herself. However the more she thought about it, the more reasons she could list this uneasiness. However there was one major difference between this meeting and meetings of the past.

This was the real world, and it was just the two of them.

Before they had gone out together, but they were always some kind of agenda along the lines. They were hunting for rare items, completing quests, going out to complete some kind of objective. This was the first time they had gone out just for the sake of spending time together. Not only that, but another major difference is that nobody would be with them this time either.

Whether inside Aincrad, Alfheim Online, or out in the real world having fun and laughing endlessly. They usually had some other of their friends with them as well. Asuna, Keiko, Suguha, Shino, or even Klein or Agil would normally come along for either the completing of a quest or to hang out in social hubs. But this time, it was just the two of them.

That was the main difference, when they spent time together there was usually an underlying meaning as to why, and they always had friends with them. Sure they were good friends, the best she could have ever asked for to be inside and outside the death game known as Sword Art Online. But it wasn't the same as to care for one special person, especially out here in the real world. She knew she was bold to ask him to spend time together just the two of them, but even she didn't mean it as like a date…However the more she thought about it the more she figured that's what it was turning into and it made her nervousness all the more real and her face becoming red. She only wondered if he thought the same way…

'Rika!' The calling of her name snapped the young woman out of her deep thoughts, as she turned and smiled in the direction of the calling of her name. A young man dressed in all black ran up to her with an equal smile. 'Hey sorry about that, I wasn't to late was I?'

'No I've only been waiting for a minute or so.' Rika picked herself up the wall as her smile widened without her knowing. 'Hey Kirito.'

'Rika come on now…' He looked around his shoulder nervously as her smile disappeared and put on a questioned look. 'We aren't in game…Can't you remember to call me by my real name?'

'Oh I'm sorry Kazuto I guess I just forgot. It's not that I don't remember…I just don't ever see you like how you are in the real world that often, outside school of course.' Rika admitted as they stood there smiling at one another. Kazuto took this time to inspect Rika's outfit she decided to wear. Modest yet daring tight blue jeans, and a zip up pink. She wore an undershirt that went further than the bottom of her jacket, giving her a type of pink over her pants, similar to how her avatar looks in the game, just with a different color scheme. However something in particular caught Kazuto's eye, a hairpiece that looked a lot like…

'Hey…Isn't that the hairpiece I got you in Aincrad the time we went to the accessory shop?' Rika smiled as she looked at the pink flower on the left side of her hair.

'Yea…Or at least really similar. I found it online and instantly had to have it. I'm surprised you remember that day.' She remembered that memory fondly, when back in another word, her and Kirito went shopping for new gear…Or to scope out the competition however you wanted to look at it. Lisbeth was very interested in accessories, and although they didn't give any boost to your stats, they helped with an even greater importance to all who had an accessory they were fond of in Aincrad. They kept you sane and kept you hoping that one day they would all escape the death game known as Sword Art Online. Until that day the hope became a reality, and Kirito cleared the 100th floor boss and they all escaped back into the real world. She thought it was a great memory, however she figured for Kirito, The Black Swordsman who not only had a million things to do, but many other strong and beautiful heroines to go on adventures with, figured it was just another ordinary day.

'Of course I remember.' Kazuto tried to defend himself with a happy yet irked smile. 'I mean I believe you taught me a very important lesson that day. That gear isn't all about stats or special effects, it's about what it can protect you that other items couldn't do, protect part of your heart, soul, and mind from fading away while we were trapped there.'

'Kazuto I didn't think you thought that much of it…' Rika was a bit surprised, and a little flustered as he gave her such a serious yet content and happy look while he spoke. 'I-I thought I was more acting childish to make something as an accessory such a big deal.'

'But that doesn't mean you were wrong Rika. I mean…Some of those memories are what kept me going to beat the game, especially near the end when things were getting crazy. And I don't mean in a normal kind of crazy either.'

'Yea I know what you mean…' They both looked down, their happy feelings going into a petty dumping party as Rika tried to perk back up the moment. 'But let's forget about that for now. Come on you said you would make it up to me when I made you Remains Heart remember!?' She practically yanked the taller man into the shop that was buzzling with life.

This was the first time either of them had been in the new café. They all said they would come together as a group, however plans fell through. And although Lisbeth knew that he was supposed to be treating her. Rika knew in a way she was treating him to some…mental therapy.

Sao Hollow Realization Dark Repulser

Kazuto and Asuna's relationship was not going so well once they got out of the game. It's not as if they didn't care for one another, that wasn't it at all. It had all to do with her parents, particularly with her mother. She not only disapproved of Asuna's relationship with Kazuto, but she didn't approve of many things despite her father trying to defend her. Asuna's mother didn't like the school set up for the SAO incident survivors, or her daughter's friendships with her peers. All she cared about was getting Asuna back on track from before she was stuck in Aincrad, and prepare her for a better future to overshadow the near deadly past. Asuna's father was trying to defend his daughter's wishes that her time stuck in Aincrad was not all bad, and although she fell behind in school by two years, she made a lot of friends and memories that came out of it that was more important than the daily pressures of a good career. However he wasn't having much luck.

Kazuto had expressed his concerns before, but not with many others. Just his closest friends from the game who also promised to not speak to Asuna about it. He didn't want to worry her any more than she already was. He was trying to be hopeful and optimistic for their relationship together in the future, but he was also a realist…He had to, so he could stay alive in Aincrad when so many others died.

Over the course of their noodles with desserts did the two talk about many things. Both in the game and in real life. Rika's parents at first were worry about her using the Amusphere after the Nervegear incident, however they know their daughter was a very lively character, and didn't like one bad thing stand in her away of what would make her happy. Especially if it meant to be with her friends from Aincrad. Kazuto shared how his relationship with his sister was improving and doing well, and their mother was happy the two were getting along again.

'Are classes still hard Rika?'

'Not as bad as I first thought. It's not as simple as collecting materials for things back at my blacksmith shop, but it isn't the most difficult thing in the world!'

'Well I'm glad to hear it.' Kazuto smiled as he took another bite of his pink cake, and a sip of his tea to wash the flavor down. He caught Rika smiling at him as he put on a sly smile himself. 'What is it Rika?'

'I was just thinking back to the adventures we had in Aincrad. Remember our journey to craft the Dark Repulser?'

'Yea back when we first met, and it was a lot of fun as well.' Kazuto smiled up to her which made Rika blush a bit as she went on.

'I remember when you brought it to me to reinforce the last time before you went and defeated Kayaba on the 75th floor. I wasn't there but I heard a lot about what happened. How you uncovered Heathcliff's identity as Kayaba, and then dueled him.'

'Yea…It was a close call.' Kirito looked down for a moment, and then back up to Rika with a small smile. 'Remember the conversation we had when you reinforced the sword? I told you I would be fighting the final boss with that sword, given its name, and it actually came true.'

'So…' Rika pushed away the rest of her desert for now, as she gave a serious look of concern to Kazuto as they looked at each other dead in the eyes, toward their souls. 'What happened?' She was almost afraid to ask. Rika had heard that Kirito and Asuna should have died to Heathcliff up on the 75th floor, but knowing Kirito, the game's most powerful player. That couldn't have happened…Unless he was about to tell her what she feared the most about her blade…

'Well…' Kazuto was nervous to tell Rika the truth. He didn't think it was such a big deal now in hindsight, but he had no idea how she would react.

'What?' He could tell she desperately wanted to know. He tried to say it in a nervous kind of tone, with a shy smile.

'The blade actually broke on me, I guess it couldn't handle the pressure of Kayaba's defenses.

'I knew it…' Rika's mood had started to sink down, as Kazuto peered at her with worried eyes. Even back in the game he was never mad at her when they weren't in fact freed from the imprisonment of SAO after defeating Heathcliff on the 75th floor, and had to clear the remaining 25. Now almost a year after being released he didn't think it was such a big deal.

'Rika it's okay. I mean sure the sword didn't last, but you made up with it by forging me Remains Heart, the sword I used to defeat Kayaba at the end.'

'I guess…' Is all she gave back, still clearly distraught. Kazuto knew they needed to get out of a public area, and go somewhere with more privacy. He called for the check and the two left the new café, when an idea came into his mind as the dark clouds started to roll in over the sun.

'Would you like to go for a little walk Rika?' She looked up to the handsome and kind man with a small smile.

'Okay.'

X

The two walked through the Imperial Palace grounds for a little while now. About 30 minutes as they hadn't said hardly a word. Rika was still deep in thought, looking troubled as Kazuto knew something was up. Was she still upset about the truth he told her of the boss fight that took place on the 75th floor? The two were crossing a bridge over a small stream of water, completely alone as little too few people were around.

'Rika, what's wrong?' Kazuto finally asked as they stood on top of the small bridge, the clouds making the atmosphere around them much darker, both in environmental, and emotional terms.

'I'm so sorry Kazuto. I'm sorry I couldn't craft a blade worthy of your strength and bravery.'

She was fighting the urge to cry. Back in the world of Aincrad, a player was only as safe as the quality of their equipment. Kirito told her many times that the sword she had crafted him, Dark Repulser, was the strongest of any sword he had ever acquired. However Lisbeth knew surely as he did, that as time went by he would need stronger and higher quality equipment if he was to keep efficient, and most importantly safe. During those times near the unexpected encounter on the 75th floor with Heathcliff, Kirito came often to get his sword reinforced from Lisbeth. Spending numerous hours hunting down materials to do the reinforcements for the minor enhancements to his sword. She wondered if he did this to put her mind at ease that it was a good blade, or his own so that he wouldn't die while wielding it.

'It's okay Rika.'

'It's not okay!' She finally snapped at Kazuto, even if she didn't mean to, letting a few small tears fall from her face. She didn't want him to sugar coat the details. The fact that he nearly died because her blade, the weapon that she forged her soul into, failed to protect him.

'I'm so useless…I couldn't help clear the game, I couldn't even make a weapon that could protect you properly. You almost died because of my shanty work…If you had…' Rika couldn't bear to speak the words she was still thankful to this day she would never have to speak. That Dark Repulser failed Kirito in the moment it mattered the most, and he died because of it.

Her small tears turned into a steady, quiet cry as Kazuto could only feel for the poor girl. She had poured all her strength and support into that original blade, and was clearly suffering at the fact it shattered on him in a time of desperate need. Although there was no denying that it had, he reminded her that the Dark Repulser served him in many ways other than just fighting alongside him.

That's when Kazuto did something unexpectantly, as Rika was surprised he pulled her into a strong, comforting hug as she rested her head upon his shoulders, to calm her tears and her sorrow from the past that haunted her to this day.

'It's okay Rika. Dark Repulser helped me in many other ways than just to fight Heathcliff. It helped me fight back the darkness in my own heart, kept me from changing in the real world.' Kazuto tried to calm the girl's sadness and bring back up her spirits as he went on.

Dark Repulser Sword Template

'Dark Repulser was a sword that boosted my stats as well as my damage. It fought with me for many floors before it finally gave in when I fought Kayaba on the 75th floor. But it did so much more for me than just protect me. It reminded me of what I was fighting for. I was fighting against the darkness of this game but also my own heart from changing. It repulsed the darkness trying to invade my spirit, to just give up on ever getting out of SAO, and to just waste away or even commit suicide. You see…It may have shattered when I fought Heathcliff, but even up until then it had already saved my life on more than one occasion. Both when I was fighting monsters or bosses, and when I was fighting my own inner demons to just give in and give up on returning back to the real world.'

'Kazuto…' Rika didn't know what to say, she was speechless at best. She never would have thought he could see all the blade did for him when it failed at perhaps the most pivotal point at that time. He smiled as he went on, playing with her short brown hair to further try and calm the girl's mind.

'Did I ever tell you about the fight with Gleam Eyes? The boss of the 74th floor just before the fight with Heathcliff. I don't think I ever told you this, but…I should have died that fight. Asuna, Klein, and I rushed into the boss' room to save the army guys who tried to take on the boss, but we were heavily under partied to take on a floor boss. The Dark Repulser not only gave me the strength and damage needed to defeat Gleam Eyes, but it also gave me the courage to use my Dual Wielding skills at a time when no one knew I had them…You see, it repulsed the darkness of doubt and fear in my mind and my heart at the time for me to use my true potential. If it wasn't for that sword…'

Kazuto took a pause as he separated the two, arm's length apart still holding her shoulders as he smiled. 'I wouldn't be here today talking to you now. Because of your sword, because of what you did for me, I'm still alive.'

'Kazuto…You're so smooth.' Rika let out a small laugh as she wiped away her tears. 'You're such a heartwarming and caring guy. You know that right?'

'Don't try and change the subject.' Kazuto laughed alongside her as he went on, except for another sword. 'And then you forged me Remains Heart, and we went on the super long quest to get it. We had a lot of fun, had a lot of good laughs and memories.'

'Like that time you were seduced by that demon and I had to…snap you out of it.' Rika blushed remembering of that day, when she had to practically have Kirito feel up her chest to snap him out of the demon's seductive gaze. 'Or the time you tried to peek at me in the hot springs…Speaking of which we haven't went on a hot spring trip yet!' Rika's memory sprung again this time in a more positive manner at Kirito's promise to go on a hot spring trip once they were out of the game.

'Right I remember…' He said rather nervously scratching the back of his head. 'We've just been so busy since we've been back. Tests, physical therapy, school, adjusting back to the real world.'

'Well we still have to go sometime.' Rika smiled as she thought back to those memories. Remains Heart was thee masterpiece of her work. The red, pink, and golden trimmed one handed sword, the sword she forged Kirito that he used to protect himself until the very end of the game. The sword that every bit of her love for him went into the blade, yet he still hadn't figured that part out yet…Or maybe he never will.

'You never did tell me what the Book of Secrets said.' Kazuto added on to Rika's already doubting heart, hurting in a way even if he didn't mean to with such an innocent tone. 'I remember you kissed me and to take your word from it. But you never did tell me what that last page contained.'

'Do you…Do you really want to know?' She asked as Kazuto caught on that she was almost afraid to tell him. Just what could it have said?

'Only if you're comfortable to tell me.' Rika took his words into consideration, and suddenly remembered the promise she made to herself. She was fine with how things were back in Aincrad, however now that she was back in the real world…She wasn't satisfied to be off to the sides anymore. She promised to herself that once they made it back to the real world she would try to be by Kazuto's side.

Elucidator And Dark Repulser

'Okay. But before I tell you. You have to tell me a few things first.' She seemed determined as Kazuto didn't realize he was tensing up.

'Okay, what do you want to know?'

'First off...How powerful was Remains Heart for you? I mean you got it on the 86th floor…And you used it until the very end. You never even came to me to reinforce the blade, despite that monsters, dungeons, and bosses were only getting harder.' Kazuto took Rika's words into thought as he pondered the strength of the blade she forged for him, and in turn perhaps saved his life and sanity in the end.

'It was the most powerful sword I ever came across until the end of the game. Sure the stats on the weapon weren't the best, but for all the other things it did for me, not just in the game, but mentally as well. It was hands down the strongest sword in my possession. That's why I took it with me at the final boss fight.'

'Mentally?' Rika asked in a questionable tone. Kazuto gave a small chuckle as he scratched the side of his cheek, trying to tell the weapon forger exactly what he meant.

'Well look at the Dark Repusler's name. It repulsed the darkness from the game but also my own soul. Remains Heart did a very similar job, and served an almost identical purpose. Near the end of the game…When we were so close to the top floor, and we had to fight Strea…I think the blade saved what was left of my feeling heart. I was so distraught, my sanity was on the brink of going insane and losing myself. But Remains Heart kept me pure.'

Once again Kazuto had melted Rika's heart with nothing but his words and a smile. Her cheeks heated as she blushed, and leaned against the bridge as the sun was starting to descend, creating a flourishing orange glow slightly dimmed by darkening clouds.

Rika then changed the subject. 'You know, this view kind of reminds me about the time you found me under the bridge.' Kazuto looked at the surrounding viewpoint, and literally saw what Rika meant. The lighting, the bridge, the feeling of the atmosphere was very similar to what he experienced before when he had just met Lisbeth.

'You're right…' He took a slight pause. 'It does remind me back of that time we talked near the bridge.' He stuck his hands in his coat jacket as Rika took a deep breath. It not only looked the same, but also felt the same as back then. When she wanted to tell Kirito how she felt, only to learn about Asuna. However what she now wanted to know was if this time would be any different.

'Kazuto' He turned back to Rika as she took his hands into her own, them both blushing as she went on. 'So you want to know what the Book of Secrets' last page said? The one I didn't really tell you about.'

'I can't help but be curious now.' He gave her jokingly as she took a deep breath before continuing on, looking him in the eyes. It was now or never.

'It said that the sword, Remains Heart would only be as strong as the bond the blacksmith and the swordsmen shared. It basically means that the sword is only as good as the bond that you and I share.' Rika could tell he was embarrassed as his cheeks heated up. But she still went on, holding his hands a little tighter.

'When I was forging the sword…All I could think about was you. Our friendship, all our past adventures, the good and the bad times…'

'Rika-'

'My feelings for you is what made the sword strong Kazuto. That's what the Book of Secrets said. But remember…I said mutual bond. So I'm asking you now Kazuto. I know you aren't as dense and dimwitted as you try to play off sometimes.' He didn't know what to say, he had mixed feelings, both good and bad. He asked to know the truth, and now that he had it, Kazuto didn't know how to answer Rika.

'How do you feel about me? I mean…The blade was only as strong as our relationship. You took it with you to beat the game, you never came to get the blade reinforced…It was something on a whole other level of powerful. That…Has to mean something.'

'Rika…I-'Kazuto didn't know what to tell her, as they both stepped closer toward one another. 'There is definitely a part of me that really cares about you Rika, a part of me that wants to make sure you're happy and safe. Back when were in Aincrad, I wanted nothing more to make sure everyone was happy and protected when we were clearing the last 25 floors. Even now that still holds true.'

'But…?' Rika knew where this was going, as she started to tear up a little, both in her eyes and her heart.

'I-I definitely think we're closer than friends. The sword was incredibly powerful, that has to mean our bond is very strong too. Remains Heart…No, even Dark Repulser saved my life more times than I can count. Your two swords with the feelings you forged into them, are what kept me going until the end. Our bond has to be strong, there is no doubt about it.' He tried to let her down in a gentle kind of way, wrapping her hands within his own and gave a small smile.

'Yea…You're right, it definitely is!' Rika wiped away a single tear, knowing that even though Kazuto hadn't given her a verbal answer, she knew the answer within her heart. It hurt knowing the truth, but it is better to love and lost than to never have loved at all. She knew that Kazuto loved Asuna, there was just no denying it despite their complicated relationship now.

Dark Repulser Sao

Now that she knew her answer, Rika could accept her role as Kazuto's close friend and companion…As well as Kirito's exclusive blacksmith. The blacksmith who saved the swordsmen's life with two powerful blades forged by her undying feelings for him.

'We should probably be heading home soon. Want me to walk you home?'

'Yea…If you don't mind Kazuto.' Rika smiled as they walked away from the bridge, toward the closest exit of the Imperial Palace grounds. 'Kazuto…Can I hold your hand while we walk?' It took him a moment to give an answer, as Rika only gave a small smile wiping away the very last tear from her face. He gave one back as he put her hand within his own, locking it with his fingers similar to the night they slept in the dragon's den. When Lisbeth locked hands with Kirito…

'Sure.'

'Thanks.' Is all she gave back as the two headed out of the Imperial grounds, hand-in-hand. As they walked toward Rika's home with the sun going down and only a shred of light left leaving in a wake of darkness, her mind couldn't help but wander.

Kirito…I know you say my blades saved your life, but you also saved mine. You helped me go on when I couldn't help clear floors anymore, I don't know if I would still be alive if it wasn't for you picking me up, physically and mentally. Even now…You're my Dark Repulser, helping me fight off these frustrated feelings that I have…But I guess that's just who you are, you're much more smooth than you give yourself credit for.

You're my Dark Repulser, and you hold what remains of my heart back in Aincrad. I'm not sure what the future holds for you and for Asuna, or even myself.

But I'll always be by your side.